clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Was woman slowly poisoned - sip by sip?

Carol Ann Hellar's killer took her life sip by agonizing sip, prosecutors contend.

She probably never noticed the extra sweetness in her soft drinks or suspected it of causing the ailments that began troubling her a few months into her new marriage.On the day before her first anniversary, Carol Ann Hellar was dead. Prosecutors argue it was from antifreeze her husband poured into her drinks over eight months.

"It's the only case we know of where somebody was poisoned over time with antifreeze," Assistant District Attorney Mark Gibson said.

A Noble County judge on Tuesday ordered Dennis Lee Hellar, 53, to return for a Dec. 15 preliminary hearing on a first-degree murder charge for his wife's death on June 12, 1995. He did not enter a plea and was jailed without bail.

Hellar was a suspect after his wife's death, but prosecutors said they had trouble finding experts who could prove evidence of long-term poisoning. Dennis Hellar was not arrested until Monday.

Police Lt. David Farrow said Hellar allegedly slipped the antifreeze into his wife's drinks when he was home on weekends. By the time the toxicity reached its full effect 72 hours later, police said, Hellar was out of town on his jobs hauling trash and cleaning yards.

"The effects take a while to kick in to the body," Farrow said. "It looked like she was getting sick all on her own."

Prosecutors say the poisoning began in October 1994, less than five months after the couple's wedding. Investigators recovered a half-full gallon jug of antifreeze from the Hellars' apartment in Perry, 60 miles north of Oklahoma City.

Before the death, Dennis Hellar said he knew "a teaspoon of antifreeze per day for 10 days will kill a person," according to court documents quoting Darla Franks, the manager of the couple's apartment complex.

Franks also said Dennis Hellar told her he wanted to get his wife "permanently committed" by making it look as if "she was taking antifreeze intentionally."

Carol Ann Hellar, who was in her 50s, made 28 trips to hospitals and reported various ailments during the year of her marriage. The only month she did not go to a hospital was in April 1995 - the month her husband was jailed on a theft complaint in another county, prosecutors said.

A few weeks before her death, Carol Ann Hellar was treated in an emergency room where a doctor noted high unexplained levels of acidosis and ordered a blood test to check for ethylene glycol, the major ingredient in automobile antifreeze.